Wednesday, 27 October 2010
Tragedies in Indonesia
Members would be aware that early on the morning of 26 October a 7.4 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Sumatra caused a tsunami in and around the Mentawai Islands. Of course, this news would have caused many to reflect on the dreadful and tragic tsunami of Boxing Day in 2004. On this occasion it appears that a much, much smaller area has been affected, but lives have been lost. Initial reports are that tens of people have been killed and many more are missing and, of course, much damage has been caused. On behalf of all members I deeply regret the loss of life and the damage caused and, of course, our thoughts go out to the families and loved ones of the people affected. The Australian government has offered assistance to the government of Indonesia should this be needed.
The region affected by the tsunami is, of course, also popular with Australian travellers and I think we are all aware that a number of them were in the area at the time the tsunami struck. At this stage we have no information to suggest that any Australians have been seriously injured or killed as a result of the tsunami. I am pleased to say, as members are no doubt aware, that a group of Aussie surfers, who were originally reported as missing, have been found safe and well. That is good news, indeed. Late last night officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed the safety and welfare of this group on board the Southern Cross. Australian Embassy officials in Jakarta are working to confirm the welfare of all Australians who are registered as being in the affected area. Those efforts are continuing. We also have a consular official on the ground.
Finally, it would be remiss of me to not also note that in another part of Indonesia the eruption of Mount Merapi has also caused tragic loss of life and hardship. Our thoughts are with the Indonesian people at this time.
I rise briefly to support the words of the Prime Minister. The thoughts and prayers of the people of the northern beaches of Sydney were particularly engaged by the news from Indonesia, given that nine local surfers had been reported missing, including Mr Alex McTaggart, the former state member for Pittwater, and thank God they have been found safe and well. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Indonesia at this time and with everyone who is caught up in this latest tragedy to befall the archipelago. The opposition will, of course, support all reasonable measures that the government might choose to take to assist.